"The Woodworking Show" of Baltimore
Jan 21, 2015Public
Photo: The author, Emily Koo, writing here for Montgomery County Woodturners, is a glassblower and a woodturner.
Photo: For the past 30 years, The Woodworking Shows have travelled across the United States.  The shows come with truckloads of wood toys; I mean tools brought by vendors galore.  Contributing writers and editors of Wood Magazine (Jim Heavey, http://www.woodmagazine.com/) and Fine Woodworking (Roland Johnson, http://www.rolandjohnson.com/) and other woodworking professionals give educational seminars on a variety of wood techniques and equipment.  Professional wood turners such as Mark Supik, Bradley McCalister, Barry Gross, Ron Brown, and Johannes Michelsen give a variety of demonstrations from the “usual” bowls, lidded boxes, and pens, to the more “unusual” like a cowboy hat.
Photo: So a great question is, what did I see and experience that made it worthwhile for me to go for several days and actually admit this?  Well, my first priority was to see Johannes Michelsen make one of his famous ultra-thin cowboy hats.  I wanted to check out the different local clubs and groups to find out what they had to offer and to see their demonstrators.  In addition, I wanted to see the other professional demonstrators and drool over what the different vendors had to sell.
Photo: This year, the Baltimore show was on Friday January 2 through Sunday January 4, 2015 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Cow Palace in Timonium, Maryland.  Beth McClelland and Matt Radtke were willing to come with me.  I blissfully wandered around all the merchants and demos for three days and actually managed to avoid temptation and not buy any more tools or wood!
Photo: I went off to see Hannes first as soon as Beth, Matt, and I arrived.  I liked his easygoing, laid-back presentation and willingness to take questions at any time during his presentation.
Photo: Starting without fanfare, he tackled a large block of silver maple that he had not yet turned true, which he proceeded to do.   He quickly shaped the outside and while doing so, explained about proper stance and gave us tips to flex and bend our knees to move our bodies with our cuts, versus just using our arms swinging back and forth.  Hannes used the bowls at the foot of the lathe for a later demonstration on bowl finishing on a different day.
Photo: As the outside of the hat began to take shape, he discussed the use of his calipers and making the right adjustments to his cuts.
Photo: Once Hannes was happy with the outside dimensions and shape, he proceeded to use his coring tool to take off some wood around the hat brim.
Photo: As he passed around the cut off piece of wood, he said that he could make it into a mirror or picture frame later, which he could sell for $175 to $190.  That price could almost cover the cost of buying his coring tool, he joked.
Photo: As he warmed up, he took off his outer shirt, and the wood shavings piled up!  Around this time, Matt Radtke quickly jumped in to help with the video camera, just as he does wonderfully at Montgomery County Woodturner (MCW) meetings.
Photo: Hannes made liberal use of the lights on the lathe and a special lighting system he made to see where he needed to make cuts to his hat to get it to the requisite thinness and weight.   After some wood burnishing with ebony and rosewood to color the hatband, he passed around the turned hat.
Photo: Mike Colella stopped by to see the hat before Hannes put it on his hat stretcher and before final finishing.  It looked like Mike had done some shopping and that reminded me to investigate the vendors and other demonstrators, turners and non-turners, and the other area clubs.
Photo: Montgomery County Woodturner club (MCW) members Matt Radtke, Mike Colella, and Carl Powell on Friday Jan 2, 2015, first day of the show.
Photo: Having been to another Woodworking show, I had seen Andy Chidwick, the Woodworking Coach before and I knew he was one of the non-turners I wanted to hear.  This year Andy’s presentation was about the “Design Dilemma” and his different approach to woodworking.  He recognized that one of the barriers to improving our woodworking is that we, at times, need support and motivation as we continue to grow in our skill and ability.  Thus, this workshop would go beyond just techniques and tools and would help me expand my mind about design and make my art unique.  Recognizing that his talk was different from most, Andy walked the audience through the abstract questions of what creative problems are we trying to solve?  How we can use the art of observation to get inspiration from anywhere?  How do we make our work functional art?
Photo: In response, he used himself as an example.  Even though he lived in Montana, Andy confessed that he had not done much fly-fishing. One day, one of his friends took him fly-fishing.  Instead of concentrating on the fish that got away, the fishing lines were what caught Andy’s imagination and inspired him.  How could he capture those curves in wood?  He began his problem solving strategies by creating a full-scale road map to establish reference lines and having a clamping plan to make the object real.  Andy diagrammed his process of free form sketches directly on his workbench on the pink paper immediately.   He moved all around the bench purposely to emphasize seeing things from multiple angles and that we should do this too, to bring out our creative solutions to our woodworking projects.
Photo: Next, he brought out his working mockups that came from his drawings and showed the different ways he tried putting together the pieces until he came up with something that would actually work.  Something, in other words, that could and would be functional art.
Photo: Using those mockups and following his clamping strategy, Andy successfully created a prototype table for a client.  The prototype included a turning Andy wanted to create and use in the middle of the table to attach the legs to make the table appear to float on only the two legs.  His clients loved his craftsmanship and his artistry!
Photo: At the Woodworkers Club (Woodcraft) Booth:
Chris Johnstone cheerfully greeted passersby.
Photo: Chris with a customer, while Ralph Duarte works in the background.
Photo: At the Woodcraft booth, Matt Nauman shows off the new Laguna lathe.
Photo: Matt and a customer talked shop.
Photo: Chris reviewed the information in a Woodcraft brochure with an interested customer.
Photo: Dave Lanpher and some buyers shared a laugh.
Photo: Chris and Dave with customers.